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Signs You Might Lack Iron, and 9 Iron-Rich Foods To Add To Your Diet

Signs You Might Lack Iron, and 9 Iron-Rich Foods To Add To Your Diet

Have you been feeling tired lately even though you have been getting a good night’s sleep every night? If so you could be suffering from an iron deficiency without even knowing it, especially if you are a woman. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 10% of women are iron deficient and don’t even know it.

The Importance of Iron to the Body

While most people don’t consider iron as being a nutrient, it is actually an essential mineral to the human body. Iron is an important component of hemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout your body. If your iron levels are low, your body will not get the oxygen it needs to function as it should leading to symptoms such as fatigue.

Iron also has other important uses to your body. It is essential in maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails. So, if you want to look your best, you need to be sure you get enough iron.

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Symptoms of Iron Deficiency

In the beginning, symptoms for iron deficiency may be so mild that they simply go unnoticed. However, as your body becomes more and more depleted of iron and the anemia increases, the signs and symptoms will increase. Some of the most common iron deficiency symptoms are:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Frequent infections
  • Headache
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Inflammation or soreness of your tongue
  • Brittle nails
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt or starch
  • Poor appetite, especially in infants and children with iron deficiency anemia
  • An uncomfortable tingling or crawling feeling in your legs (restless legs syndrome)

If you or one of your loved ones develops these symptoms and you are unsure what the underlying cause actually is, see your doctor. Iron deficiency cannot be self diagnosed and self treatment is for the most part limited to what you choose to eat. A doctor will be able to prescribe the best treatment including diet changes and even iron supplements to return your iron levels back to normal.

Five Reasons You May Need Iron Supplements

There are many reasons why a doctor might prescribe iron supplements to you on top of making changes to your diet in order to get your iron levels back to a normal level.

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1. You are anemic

Iron deficiency anemia is the lack of iron in your blood that prevents it from transporting oxygen to all the cells in your body. There are many causes of this condition ranging from cancer to menstruation. While you should also investigate the cause, it is important to get your iron levels back to normal to ensure you are as healthy as you can be.

2. You are pregnant

Women who are pregnant need much more iron than women that aren’t. The recommended daily dose of iron for pregnant women is 27 mg each day. If you cannot get this iron through your diet, doctors will prescribe supplements in order to be sure your iron levels stay at the level needed.

3. You experience regular blood loss

Anyone who loses a lot of blood will need an iron supplement to return their levels back to normal. People who donate blood regularly need the supplements to ensure that their iron levels stay in the normal range.

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4. You have an infant

Babies build stores of excess iron to be used during the first six months of life because their mother’s milk doesn’t contain enough iron. Most pediatricians recommend a formula that contains iron if you bottle-feed. If your baby was born premature, the iron stores more than likely did not have time to develop. If this is the case, your doctor may prescribe an additional iron supplement.

5. You take iron depleting medication

Some medications will quickly deplete your iron levels. In order to prevent this from happening, most physicians will prescribe an iron supplement alongside the medications to ensure that you don’t become anemic as a result of your medication.

Good Sources of Iron

Most people get all the iron they need from the food they eat. By altering your diet, you can increase the amount of iron you get daily without having to take supplements. Some foods that are rich in iron are:

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  • Red meat
  • Pork
  • Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Beans
  • Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach
  • Dried fruit, such as raisins and apricots
  • Iron-fortified cereals, breads and pastas
  • Peas

Before you begin any type of diet, be sure you consult with your doctor or other health care professional to be sure it is safe and the right choice for your health.

Iron deficiency is one of the most common anemias in the United States. In many cases, it can be easily treatable with the help of your diet and, if needed, iron supplements. After a few days on the supplements, you should start to feel normal again. As always, if you don’t feel any different after taking the iron, consult with your doctor and get the help you need to take care of your iron deficiency once and for all.

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Brian Wu

Health Writer, Author

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Last Updated on December 2, 2019

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

6. Give for the Joy of Giving

When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

More About Living a Fulfilling Life

Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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